Archives For Augmented Reality

Google Glass Google Glass (Photo credit: jurvetson)

How extensive and invasive will Google’s Glass strategy be?  Will it create an Omni-Web?  My crystal ball on Google’s long game strategy for future Social, Local and Mobile (SoLoMo) solutions and offerings is unlike others I have seen written.

First, it would be helpful to define what I mean by future SoLoMo solutions and offerings. My last of four posts, How SoloMo Companies May Help You and the World Interact, listed a number of companies utilizing a variety of methods to identify and track people, places, and things in the physical world in order to personalize user experiences by learning more about out the preferences, locations and habits of our daily lives. Others have called this nearing SoLoMo transformation by a number of titles:

  • M2M – Machine to Machine
  • M2M2M – Machine to Machine to Man
  • The Internet of Things
  • Smart Services
  • The Contextual Web
  • The Sentient World
  • The Ambient Web

I provided several use cases showing how preference, presence and habit data can in turn be used / monetized by automating actions for us in our environment, and better personalizing content and advertising.

The various methods and technology being pursued by today’s enabling companies were highlighted in this “Hotel California” series of posts. Among these were:

Optical Recognition (Facial and Object), Hidden Cameras and Microphones, Gaze Tracking, Gesture Recognition, GPS and A-GPS, NFC, Bluetooth, Audio Frequency ID, Check-ins using QR codes, AR, Patches adhered to the skin, Opt-In Requests for Information protected by ToS, Platform Marketing, Tagging and Sharing of Photos, Business Intelligence and Data Mining.

Of these company categories, use cases, methods and applied technology, my take from publicly available information is that Google appears to be following the superior method of optical recognition.  With optical recognition, you need only one point of reference to capture the data presently missing; an always-on camera that scans the environment around a user.

As I see it, there are 2 fundamental enabling elements for Google to succeed as described in the excerpt I have appended below. These are:

1)   The Google Glass Project

2)   Software enablement through patented facial and object recognition, and augmented reality linked to profiles and databases.

Here is an excerpt from my last post as to how I see Google competing in the future, but first watch Google’s video on Google Glass.  Key points on how I think Google will compete are not mentioned in the video.  These key points are inferred from recent acquisitions, regulatory inquiries, patents and trademarks, and those of major competitors.

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I’ve been living under a rock. The Sphero by Orbotix has been around for some time, and is worth checking out for a very cool glimpse of the future of Arkinetics™. Yes, I said it, “Arkinetics™”, the marriage of AR and Kinetics. Using Bluetooth messaging good for 50 feet, the clever team at Orbotix in Boulder has created a robotic sphere that can be manipulated via your Apple iPhone or Android smartphone to amaze old ladies in grocery stores, play fetch with Fido without getting the glob on your hands, and let kids play games of dexterity on AR playgrounds. I like this idea due to its simplicity, which is apropos for emerging technology. The team was smart enough to create an open platform for developers to create their own games / value propositions. Right now, this is no more than a novelty.  Kids can roll a ball to knock down bowling pins the old fashioned way, right? (But can their Mom do so with them from a hotel room in Tokyo?) I did not see any press releases on their site related to venture investment, but I did see a lot of cool factor recognition. Right now its just a candidate for Smarter Image, and hopefully not competing on the same shelf with the wireless Ferrari.

You can think back to how another robotic company branched out from their original robotic vacuum cleaner product, into defense and healthcare and who knows what else is on their agenda. On the face of it, and without any insight into their team or IP, I think this is the appropriate way to look at a company like Orbotix. Its not what the Sphero does now that counts, its what the team may do in the future. What applications are there for a low cost, handheld, remotely manipulated robot? Companies like this, that may not have a ton of funding (I have no idea if they do), but have a committed and passionate team are what start-ups are all about. They’ll live and breathe the monetization problem until they either come up with a eureka moment, or go on to apply their lessons learned at another outfit with a different vision. In all probability linking together mobility, AR and robotics will be more than just cool when a few more things fall into place. Can you ruggedize it more somehow? Can you attach lasers? Can you embed more robust sensors and a camera? Can you add magnetic strips to the outside of the sphere and create a hovering cover that gets left behind? Can you use an ultra-wideband chip to create an ad hoc network of Arkinetic drones? Will it receive verbal commands? What about changing the form factor completely? This is all top of mind.  Seeing something like this opens the flood gates of possibilities, and no idea is too out there. That’s what great about start-ups. Whatever the future for the Sphero, these guys can say they were at the forefront of Arkinetics™.  In the meantime, you can get some free beers by showing the crowd at the pub how you can move that orange with your mind.